Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024)
Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024)

Genre: Action, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 55 min.

Release Date: March 29th, 2024 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Adam Wingard Actors: Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Dan Stevens, Kaylee Hottle, Alex Ferns, Fala Chen, Rachel House

 


 

W

hile Godzilla protects humanity above ground by defeating unruly goliaths and demolishing mankind’s every architectural achievement, King Kong relocates to Hollow Earth, the long-hidden, otherworldly realm deep within the earth’s core, to continue his search for brethren. Monitoring both heavyweights is Monarch, an international organization attempting to keep the peace between the monsters spread across the globe. Kong Research Division head Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) continually thwarts the efforts of the government to take over her beloved project; her adopted Iwi daughter Jia (Kaylee Hottle) struggles to adapt to life outside Skull Island; and her former associate, the podcaster and self-proclaimed titan expert Bernie Hayes, battles online trolls and general mistrust amongst his colleagues and listeners. When all three are brought together over their mutual discovery of a mysterious distress signal emanating from Hollow Earth and Godzilla’s sudden aggressive behaviors, they venture into uncharted territory where they will uncover a buried evil determined to conquer the entire world, above and below.

Once again, it opens with an unusually chipper tune, setting the stage for Kong to be the titan equivalent of Stan Laurel – especially after an abrupt cut to a frenetic chase with goop and slapstick. This matches the tone from the previous chapter that, along with the staggering battles between ever-larger monstrosities, precisely resembles superhero movies, even if ant-like people happen to be scurrying around beneath the feet of the weapon-wielding and radiation-vomiting behemoths. Certainly, the senseless destruction and collateral damage is at least equivalent, as international landmarks get trampled underfoot, with a glimmer of governmental fallout spurred by an increasingly disapproving citizenry. “Find another scapegoat.”

Expectedly, the human storylines are so bland that it hardly matter what these characters worry about; their personal dramas are utterly meaningless in the face of countless population-obliterating entities duking it out in the middle of bustling cities. So when mankind, represented microcosmically by the Monarch bureaucracy, needs to pretend to interfere with whatever otherworldly missions the titular titans are innately drawn toward, it’s not surprising that they send a team comprised of some of the least awe-inspiring people imaginable – receiving a hopelessly goofy slow-motion walk to their waiting spaceship. A scientist, a conspiracy theory blogger, a hallucinating child, a dentist in a Hawaiian t-shirt, and a pudgy pilot are apparently humanity’s last hope. At least they’re armed with disco music and wide-eyed wonderment at all the gargantuan flora and fauna they must face, equipped with minimal gear and zero knowledge about unexplored realms. “This would be like last time when we saved the world.”

A loud soundtrack, loud sound effects, loud demolishment, and loud dialogue (mostly yelling, to be heard over the extraterrestrial giants) preside over a somewhat colossal quantity of computer graphics (it does have to attempt to outdo its predecessor). But the shift into fantasy far more than sci-fi grows a bit excessive for the considerable amount of suspended disbelief necessary to sell the premise; the exceptionally inept explorers, like a “Star Trek” reconnaissance squad made entirely of extras, continually stumble into new places with new species and new civilizations. The alien expansiveness of the middle of the planet is quite a bit like outer space, where an infinite number of planets provide opportunities for unlimited adventures. And here, it’s apparent that there’s no need for an expensive cast; like in bad horror films or the last few “Jurassic Park” entries, the humans are largely pointless. Audiences are surely only rooting for the monsters.

Also unusually pitiful is the dialogue, almost all of which is unnecessary. Just as the deaf Jia understands what is going on around her, almost solely by watching actions and reactions, viewers too can guess what’s happening based on expressions and movements. Yet virtually every spoken line is redundant narration or explanations of evident visuals (the nonsensical prophecies are abysmal), or the plain verbalizing of intentions and feelings and plans that are completely obvious. The humans really are the worst part of the picture. Fortunately, Kong’s environment expands, allowing him to interact with even more oversized creatures, leading to a mastodonic – if exhausting – climax that keeps leveling populous areas, with little care for how many thousands of people are undoubtedly dying, vaporized in exploding buildings and monuments. The pummeling dished out and absorbed by Godzilla and Kong may be intermittently entertaining, but the filmmakers truly have to work on storytelling; relying primarily on infrastructure decimation for the fifth time around in this Hollywood franchise simply isn’t helping it to stand out. “Our analysts don’t know what to make of this.”

– The Massie Twins

  • 4/10

MonsterVerse Franchise


Godzilla (2014)

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024)